The everyday can quickly become mundane and get old pretty fast. Speaking of old, haven’t you observed that it seems the older we get the more cynical we become? When we were children we’d think about relationships in a dreamy sort of way, all stars in our eyes. Maybe falling in love, finding “the one” and finally getting hitched in your mind looked exactly like a fairytale. Then, a few heart breaks and a couple of decades later, you’re a lot smarter and a hell of a lot more realistic.
You now look at newly dating or newlywed couples that are all smoochy-smoochy and literally gag. “Get a room, why don’t you…” you mutter under your breath. You and your partner might even play the game of guessing just how new a couple’s relationship is. You bet how long the couple has been together: “I’ll bet it’s been a month or so. Look at the way he’s looking at her. Oh brother, she can’t even eat in front of him. A couple of weeks, tops,” you say. Then you ask the couple and, sure enough, it’s been less than a week. It’s their first date, even. “Well, you two look like you’d make a great couple,” you tell them. You wait until you’re far enough to turn to your partner and cynically add, “Yeah, I give it a few months.” It’s like the image of a relationship, the kind that you imagined as a child, suddenly morphed into a Scrooge caricature.
It’s the same thing with careers. Ever have a dream as a child of becoming an astronaut and flying to the moon? But then maybe your mom or dad told you that it sounded like a very dangerous job and to stop being so silly and to “get your head out of the clouds.” You look back at it now, and you’ve been great in academics and seriously could have applied to MIT and actually work for NASA. It was your dream job but instead, you played it safe and got a business degree. You like what you do, but you’ve gone your entire life haunted by the voice of your parents telling you to get real. You realize that you never once took a risk in your entire life, unaware that your parent or parents had that much sway on you. I mean, you’ve never ever done anything risky, daring or challenging. You never let your emotions get too out of control and you always remembered to stop day dreaming because day dreaming is for losers.
Regardless of the type of influences we had growing up, there were experiences, circumstances, environment, social and economic influences, and individuals that played a huge role in our lives. Perhaps you were influenced by your parents, as most of us were. Your dad owned his own construction company and at one point you wanted to play football. But, you stopped doing so even though you were very good. You ended up going into the “family business,” and now you run the company. Maybe your father was a doctor and your entire family is doctors. You hate medicine, but you’re still applying to med schools just to please everyone else, even if you want to actually do something completely different.
We have all had our immaturities. Some of us still have them while others have evolved. We have all been told to grow up, act like an adult, be mature and think practically. Ever watch a child play? Children in their innocence can entertain themselves with very little. It doesn’t take an annual pass to Disneyland or Disney World to entertain them. It’s their imaginations that take hold. They can be anything and do anything so as long as they can dream it. The world is their oyster and everything that they see looks “cool.”
The smallest things wow kids; they are fascinated by the way the world is and how things work. But when we become adults we’re told to put away our childish dreams, beliefs and notions. We’re told to think realistically and that dreaming, inventing and having creative passion is a waste of time. It’s not “mature,” they say.
That’s why a lot of parents still dissuade their children from do anything creative or artistic. It’s better to be a lawyer or a doctor or a businessman, anything but in the arts. But, it’s creativity and innovation that made some of the most successful and wealthiest people who they are. And it’s not just about making money; people who are positive and happier allow themselves to enjoy life. Their childlike minds still remain intact, yet they never stop learning and growing. They are open to change and new ideas and fostering their creativity instead of hindering it.
There is a season for everything, we once learned. There is a time to be serious, realistic, and focused. But, there’s also a place for childlike wonder to dream again, to think big and to be open to all sorts of possibilities. Who says we need to remain a cynic? The Scrooge mentality about relationships and careers is a negative and narrow approach to life. It’s not to say that you have to be happy all of the time, but I truly believe that opening up the mind and seeing the world with childlike wonder is a more fulfilling, less negative and much more enjoyable approach to life.
If you have taken yourself too serious lately and you’re guilty of being a “stick in the mud,” all work but no play, then it’s time to tap into that inner child. It doesn’t hurt to loosen up, laugh a little and schedule some quality “me time.” And if you have an outrageously daring dream you’ve shelved, it’s time to dust it off.
Regardless of how small, silly, big, or bizarre your dream or if you are simply itching to get happier then it’s time to be a silly kid again. I bet you’ll have the time of your life, and at least open yourself up to the success you’ve always imagined, if you can learn to love life the way a child does.